Defenders Speaks Out Against Izembek Refuge Road Proposal

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

BREAKING: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comment on a draft environmental impact statement released today that evaluates a proposed land exchange and road through federally protected Wilderness in Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge that would link the rural village of King Cove to an airport in nearby Cold Bay.

The following is a statement from Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife:

“The Izembek National Wildlife Refuge is no place for a road, and the community of King Cove does not need one to thrive. It is not a choice between protecting people and conserving wildlife. U.S. taxpayers have already provided $37.5 million to King Cove to build a safe, reliable transportation system, including a state-of-the-art seaworthy hovercraft capable of transporting an ambulance to Cold Bay. Since 2007, the hovercraft has been proven effective for more than 30 medical evacuations from King Cove. The continued wellbeing of King Cove’s residents is very important, but more spending, on yet another transportation option, is unnecessary.”

Background:

  • As required by Congress in 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comment on a draft environmental impact statement that evaluates a proposed land exchange and road through federally protected Wilderness in Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge that would link the rural village of King Cove to an airport in nearby Cold Bay.
  • King Cove continues to lobby Congress for the road despite receiving $37.5 million in federal aid in 1998 to address safety concerns. The funding was earmarked for King Cove to modernize its medical facilities, build a marine terminal and access road, and purchase a seaworthy hovercraft capable of transporting an ambulance to Cold Bay in as few as 20 minutes.
  • To build the road, wetlands in the ecological heart of the refuge would have to be stripped of federal Wilderness protections, putting critically important habitat and hundreds of thousands of migrating birds — including 98 percent of Pacific black brants and nearly all of the world’s emperor geese — at risk. These birds depend on Izembek refuge’s eelgrass beds to nest, rest and feed. The area is also used by caribou, brown bears and a number of marine mammals.

 

 

 

 

5 Responses to “Defenders Speaks Out Against Izembek Refuge Road Proposal”

  1. Roxanne

    Agree with Jamie Rappaport Clark, “The Izembek National Wildlife Refuge is no place for a road, and the community of King Cove does not need one to thrive. It is not a choice between protecting people and conserving wildlife. U.S. taxpayers have already provided $37.5 million to King Cove to build a safe, reliable transportation system, including a state-of-the-art seaworthy hovercraft capable of transporting an ambulance to Cold Bay. Since 2007, the hovercraft has been proven effective for more than 30 medical evacuations from King Cove. The continued wellbeing of King Cove’s residents is very important, but more spending, on yet another transportation option, is unnecessary.”
    Roxanne

    Reply
  2. Kim Clark

    Is it ever going to stop, or are we going to kill everything for our convenience?

    Reply
  3. Diane Welsh

    If there currently exists a reliable mode of transportation, especially in the need of emergency, then this road is a concept of convenience and a free way to travel. Encroaching on protected lands and damaging that area with construction and needless petroleum vapors polluting the atmosphere, doesn’t sound like a reasonable concept simply for convenience.

    Reply
  4. Alexander Levy

    I don’t support any proposal that would allow a road to fragment habitat on a protected wildlife refuge, park, or other natural area.

    However, as a fierce conservation advocate and authority on the conflicts between habitat connectivity and surface transportation, I’m just as concerned about Defender’s reaction to an issue that it was once at the forefront of proactively engaging via its former Habitat and Highways Campaign.

    With no other nationally-recognized NGO at the helm of this issue, we can expect to see even more such federal agencies wasting scarce public funds advancing hair-brained proposals and continuing to jeopardize the diversity of wildlife in these United States.

    Reply

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